|French with mounted knights approach from the west, the Dunkirque contingent from the bottom, the English longbow on the hills near the village. The tower is just visible on the top of the photo.|
Miniature wargaming is, well, a game. Yes, it can represent a historical battle with surprise attacks, mismatched forces, and lop-sided results; however, in the usual games with friends at the end of a hard week at work, a frustrating "That was un-winnable!" scenario is probably the last thing desired. Mine you personally I don't have a problem with those...and my dice rolling usually give me that result anyway!
The mismatch is all the more difficult to remove should there be only three players. Most (All?) battles are one side vs the other. Therefore, how is the simple army vs army be done should the evening have three participants? To give enough per side to get a game in and everyone have enough to command is a challenge. Thought must be given to other considerations of terrain restrictions, defensive works, command abilities of the rules to provide a more even combat abilities for each side.
Decided to bring out the Hundred Years War (Crecy era) collection and provide the English (PeterM) with enough units to command in a central defensive position to fend off myself attacking with the Dunkerque contingent and a force of French under CraigM. The French had a cannon on the far side, pounding the English tower with a cannon and defended by a small group of men-at-arms.
|the village with the English defenders and the bridges across the stream.|
Do you, the reader and sometimes gamesmaster, get any pre-game discussions which start with, "what about the terrain?, what is light woods and which are heavy?, is the river crossable?, at which points?, are the fields open or rough ground?" sent to you in rapid fire questioning at the start of every game? Obviously some need to be discussed but the question of fordability has always been one of those sore points with me. When a player asks about the, say, eight feet of river sections on the table stretching the entire table, would the army even know? I would say "I don't know, find it yourself"; and getting, yes, the inevitable response of " Umm, how?" In this case I had the player disperse one of his units, the Bidower Woodmen, to sections he wanted to cross and roll for success. This unit would be lost to him due to this deployment. He did the difficult rolls sucessfully to allow a portion of his army to cross rather than the bridge to his front. As a GM, make it difficult, time consuming, and troop costly for the player to obtain such information, as just in real-life. Lots of battles are a result of unknown terrain influencing affairs. For example, American Civil War Corps commander Burnside kept feeding in troops to cross a well-defended bridge not knowing there was a crossing point of the Antietam Creek only a short distance away from which the defending force could be outflanked. Tell that location in advance to the player whose army has never been to the location ahead of time certainly changes the subsequent action in the game.
Nevertheless in this game the French had a crossing point in addition to the obvious bridge. The tower was improbably destroyed early with Craig's remarkably high dice rolling activations [ gunpowder cannon are not in the Lion Rampant rules, so I would have the cannon activate on ever more difficult activation rolls theoretically limiting the number of shots during the game but his lucky dice allowed him to have successive firing rolls quickly gaining the pre-determined but unknown amount of hits to inflict upon the tower to bring it down. I allowed the number of dice this hidden amount would be based upon to be known, and Peter, ever the statistician, worked out exactly when to move out of the tower with a hidden(*) unit before this might occur. - note to self: keep unknown rolls unknown!
Interestingly we rolled to see how the tower would collapse: points of the compass with a d6 and if any 6 rolled per each figure would result in its demise. Only one of Peter's troops was killed by a falling stone. It was suggested that if I made the pip number a 1, he would have lost far more. All game long, Peter and I were competing for the 'poorest dice roller' award. We did agree however that he won that dubious honour.
|Mid-battle and the French knights are taking a scenic route to the tower, the knights are out of the tower minus one of their number (top of image), and the clash for the hill position has begun with my Dunkirque mixed weapon foot units (lower right)|
(*) the tower (see previous post link) has a removable roof and I endeavoured to hide some knights within for Peter's use. Craig, rather clumsily, knocked it over, revealing the hidden troops. Well done reconnaissance or perfidious fortune? Oh, that, and the resultant "how YOU are to prevent it getting knocked over in the future" engineering discussion.....